Number One: You probably don’t need to add any extra to your diet.
Good news: You're probably already getting more than enough protein!
Most Americans' diets include more protein than they actually need. Protein should make up 10 — 15% of your daily calorie intake, according to the World Health Organization. That comes out to 46 grams per day for most adult women, and 56 grams for most adult men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But most people overshoot that target: A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that American men are consuming an average of 101.9 grams a day, and women an average of 70.1 grams. A single skinless chicken breast, with 54 grams of protein, would satisfy your daily quota.
And yes, this is true for most vegetarians and vegans — if they're eating whole foods.
"If you are a vegan or vegetarian and you're eating a lot of refined or processed products, you may not be getting enough protein," says RDN Frances Largeman-Roth, author of Eating In Color: Delicious Healthy Recipes For You and Your Family . But if you're eating a good variety of whole foods, she says, you probably are. "It's really a misconception that you can't get enough protein. It's just that you're not sitting down having a steak which might have 30 — 40 grams in one sitting."
Because vegans aren't eating any animal products, they have to pay special attention. "If you follow vegan practices, you need to be sure to eat a variety of grains and beans (to get enough protein), to take in enough calories (so you don't lose weight), and to find an alternative source for vitamin B12 (the one vitamin that is found only in foods from animal sources)," advises Marion Nestle in her book What To Eat . You can find B12 in some kinds of nutritional yeasts, some fortified soy milks, supplements, and some fake meat products. Just check your nutritional labels to be sure.
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Athletes need more protein than the rest of us, but how much varies from person to person.
Athletes (meaning someone working out at high intensity five times a week) need more protein than the average person, but how much depends on their sex, their level and type of activity, and other variables. An adult male athlete may need 84–119 grams per day, and an adult female athlete may need about 66–94 grams, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
If you're a regular person working out a few times a week for an hour or less each time, you probably don't need to worry about getting additional protein. If you're more active, talk to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to find out what your protein needs are.
ABC / gifbay.com